Before I say anything else, let me just begin by offering my congratulations to the graduating class of 2012 all throughout Indonesia. You guys have come such a long way, facing hurdles here and there, and even losing comrades along the way. You were beaten down by the disappointments of low scores. You were confined by the bars that is standardized evaluation. You gave blood, sweat, and tears getting through the last days of dependence in order to arrive on this day, only to discover that the journey has just begun.

High school is a time of closure. As learners, you gather up your last drops of knowledge, put the bottle caps on, and tuck that bottle safely for future usage. It is also the preamble to a time of exploration. As sons and daughters, you peek outside the front door, occasionally stepping out of mother’s skirt and occasionally stepping back in. At some point, you will be brave enough to step out and stay out in the previously unfamiliar setting. It is at that point, that you are ready to flip the page to the new chapter.

For some people, this new chapter is mighty frightening. They yearn to go back to the periods of dependence. Why, you ask? Lots of reasons. They may realize they have not enough drops of knowledge in their bottle, so they frantically try to top it up. They may grow tiresome of the pressures of independence, so they look for a new pillar to lean on. Lastly, they may realize that they are simply not ready for this new experience, so then they long for the past.

I have had the opportunity of stepping into this new chapter. Thus far, I’ve had the pleasure of taking a new bottle and filling it with new drops of knowledge. I won’t say there aren’t any hurdles I have to jump over, but as time goes by I realize that those hurdles are comrades, not adversaries.

This new chapter is one of discovery. You get to discover new worlds, new colors, new ages. But most of all, you get to discover a new self. You get to be treated as you, not your social status, not your group of friends, not your parents’ ability to buy a Jaguar (I think this might be part of why some people fear this chapter: they have yet to find who they are despite these things). What I love most about this new chapter is that you get to escape this idea that you have to fit in. You will realize that no one is youer that you - as Dr. Seuss says - therefore you will become the best you that you can be. In becoming so, the process is not instantaneous, but it is pleasant (I can vouch for this, for I am just beginning mine). This chapter is about distinction, not conformity.

Last but not least, this chapter is most likely to be the only time you get to see your whole life ahead of you. You get to flip through the catalogs of life choices and contemplate on the numerous options, imagining the domino effect each decision can make. You get to picture your future before finally living it.

Close your eyes. Imagine you are atop a mountain, grasping all the different milieu around you.

To the right, you see a wave of hills and valleys, green with a lush glow of flora.

To the left, you see a coast with white sand twinkling in the sunlight. The smell of salt wrapped up in blows of fresh humid wind kissing your face gently.

You turned around, and you see a stretch of land, plastered with white and showered by more white. Unknown depth, unknown length. You can’t help but yearn to lay down upon it, feel the biting cold touching your skin, taste the snowflake the clouds produce.

Lastly, you look ahead. A winding road is all you see. “What is ahead?” You ask yourself. A swamp? A city? Curiosity encompasses.

Now open your eyes. You are on this mountain right now looking in all directions and discovering what’s to come; each path leads to different places and different results. Now to help you decide which path to choose, consider this question: “Who are you?”

It is a tricky question indeed, and each of the aforementioned paths will lead to different answers. Don’t fret, though, you will have a whole lifetime to answer it, starting with today. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life, may you have a pleasant journey ahead.